A mountain that rises at the 2.376 meters. Eight mountain picks that touch the sky. Two lakes that mirror their forests. A dozen small and bigger villages, cosmopolitan and lively, secret and quiet. And many more trails connecting them, going up on lush mountain sides, climbing on summits, and passing through lush cypress trees.
The mountainous Corinth is the perfect winter destination, but we suggest to visit in late spring, when the prices are lower and the trails are full of flowers, and in autumn, when the orange red landscape covers the lakes with a marvelous veil.
Ziria is called the mountain on the sides of which are the villages, the lakes and the routes of mountainous Corinth. It is also called Killini, a name that is not commonly used in order to avoid the confusion with the other Killini, at the other side of the Peloponnese.
The entrances to this magical world of the mountain are three, all of them from the Corinthian coasts: It is easier to move towards the popular Trikala from Xylokastro, from Kiato towards Stymphalia, and from Derveni towards Doxa and Feneos. A circular route connects almost all villages, making Ziria ideal for car rides and making sure you always find your way back, even if you take the wrong entrance.
This lake is already popular, even if you’ve never visited before: It is Stymphalia, with the famous birds that no longer exist since Hercules killed them in one of his labors. There are though, 160 species of animals and birds that consider this wetland as their home. An impressive museum at its banks, the Environmental Museum of Stymphalia, will explain everything about them. Especially kids will love it, so don’t miss it.
We should say that, although it is drained in the most part, Stymphalia loses a bit in comparison to the other lake of mountainous Corinth, the most impressive lake Doxa that you can find in Northern Ziria.
Firstly, you pass by the “Balcony of the Corinthian Gulf”, the traditional village called Souli, and then by the astounding Observatory of Kryoneri (that is not open to visit), driving through green mountain sides, and before you know it you have reached Kefalari. A sweet traditional village, no more than fifty houses, nestled on the foot of a fir- coated mountain side, with its cobbled square covered by a century old plane tree and its two story houses adorned by red- tiled roofs.
Stop for a coffee at Kefalari and we’re heading to Stymphalia, passing by the bigger, although less picturesque, village, Kalliani. Our first stop, out of the many detours of our route, brings us to the tiny village of Asprokampo, another “secret” village that smells like tradition and Agiorgitiko wine of Nemea, from the adjacent vineyards. In its sights are included of course, the open for visit wineries, as well as the stone- built church of St. Nicholas that stands for two centuries at the highest spot of the village, next to an enormous plane tree that enjoys the panoramic view to the Corinthian landscapes around it from its cobbled yard.
As we leave Stymphalia back, the landscape becomes more impressive: Fir coated summits that look like touching the sky and arched mountain slopes getting so close to each other that make the road leading there look like a gorge winding among them.
Nestled among three of these mountain slopes, Lafka is barely seen from the main road- and that is due to its red- tiled roofs that break through the symphony of green and inevitably catch the eye. Follow the two kilometers detour from the main road, enchanted as you may be, to see this jewel- like village with the small houses popping up among the fir trees, and its small square with the running waters that steal the show. Here are also worth a visit the tiny but well- cared Folklore Museum of Lafka and the temple of Agios Athanasios with its impressive icon screen.As you move higher, at the 1.100 meters, Kastania overlooks the mountain picks around it with a panoramic view, nestled in the heart of a fir tree forest. You will enjoy it most at the small church of Koimisis Theotokou. In the sights of the village, which has nice options for food and accommodation, is included Trikrina, a stone-built fountain that according to mythology the nymphs were bathing young Hermes.